Notable Women of ISU: Catherine MacKay @IowaStateU

For this installment of Notable Women of ISU, we’re going to highlight Catherine (also spelled “Catharine”) MacKay. Born in Canada in 1871, MacKay eventually became the first dean of the Division of Home Economics at Iowa State College (University).

Portrait of MacKay, featured in a 1951 article in The Iowa Homemaker. RS 12/1/11, Box 1, Folder 6

Portrait of MacKay, featured in a 1951 article in The Iowa Homemaker. RS 12/1/11, Box 1, Folder 6

At the young age of 16, MacKay took over the maternal role in her large family after her mother died, leaving education behind. Eventually she returned to school and received her Master’s degree from Drexel Institute in Boston in 1905. She also attended the Boston Cooking School as well as Teacher’s College, Columbia University.

MacKay joined Iowa State in 1911, at which time she worked as an assistant to Domestic Science department head Virgilia Purmort. The following year, MacKay took over as head of the department and was named dean when it became the Division of Home Economics in 1913. During her tenure at Iowa State, the Division for Home Economics saw a significant increase in student enrollment, as well as an increase in faculty and staff. MacKay also initiated the use of “practice houses,” which you can read about in this blog post.

Home Economics faculty (MacKay is third from left), 1912. University Photographs, RS 12/1/D, Box 908

Home Economics faculty (MacKay is third from left), 1912. University Photographs, RS 12/1/D, Box 908

Over the course of her career, MacKay was involved in a number of other things. She served as a consultant for the New Housekeeping department of the Ladies’ Home Journal, was a member of the Iowa Equal Suffrage Association, served as president of the American Home Economics Association, and worked with the United States Food and Drug Administration, to name a few. She was awarded an honorary Master’s degree in 1917 by the Drexel Institute.

Portrait of MacKay from the 1917 Bomb. RS 12/1/11, Box 1, Folder 9

Portrait of MacKay from the 1917 Bomb. RS 12/1/11, Box 1, Folder 9

Dean MacKay died at her brother’s home in Winnipeg, Canada, in 1921 after a long illness. She was greatly missed by the Division of Home Economics, as evidenced by this passage in an August 23, 1921, article from an Ames newspaper (possibly the Student [now the Iowa State Daily], but it’s not labeled):

“Home Economics at Iowa State without Miss MacKay will seem much like the play of Hamlet with Hamlet left out. She was the heart and soul of the division for so long that she came to personify it. It stood for her and she stood for it.” (RS 12/1/11, box 1, folder 9)

With words like that, it’s no wonder the Home Economics building was later named after her.

For more information, come in and see the Catherine J. MacKay Papers. As always, we look forward to seeing you!


Welcome Freshman! #TBT @IowaStateU

Freshman Orientation kicked off this week. Let’s celebrate the arrival of future Cyclones with a picture from the past! The photograph below is from Freshman Days in 1946. “Freshman Day” was first instituted at Iowa State College (University) during the fall quarter of 1926. The next year the program was expanded to three days.

Freshman Days 1946. Lee Bradish photographing freshmen during Freshman Days (University Photographs box 454.1)

Lee Bradish photographing freshmen during Freshman Days (University Photographs box 454)

In 1960, two significant changes occurred in regards to Freshman Days. One was the change of name from Freshman Days to Orientation Days. The other was the creation of a summer orientation program. The summer program was in addition to the fall program. The summer orientation program eventually became the main orientation program for students in the coming years.

Drop by the reading room to check out other historical University Photographs! We’re open Monday-Friday 10-4.


Ephemera in Archives

Tiger rake front

Lawrence Skromme Agricultural Machinery Literature Collection (RS 11/07/227), box 20, folder 39.

A few months ago I took a phone call from a farmer in another state. The man and his son were restoring a piece of farm equipment made in the 1890s. His dilemma was not knowing what color(s) to paint the machine. His research led him to our website, where he found an inventory for a collection of agricultural literature, including advertisements and brochures put out by the manufacturer of the machine being restored. I told him I would get back to him soon, hopefully with evidence of the machine’s original paint-job.

Drill front

Lawrence Skromme Agricultural Machinery Literature Collection (RS 21/07/227), box 20, folder 40.

I began examining the companies’ ephemera. Most of it was illustrated in black and white: nice, precise work, probably supplied to the printer as engravings. The brochures, pamphlets, etc. were very wordy by modern advertising and marketing standards, but none of them mentioned the products’ color.  Everything imaginable was detailed, except color and finish!

Later, I was relieved to find a few cards featuring color illustrations (shown above; the backs carry text). The farmer was pleased with the information I gave him. I thanked him for pointing me in the right direction at the outset; the work had gone quickly. Now he had at least some evidence to consider when painting his piece of 1890s farm equipment. Ephemera in an archive had been the key.


 

Archives collect and preserve ephemera, among other things. It’s a pretty word that, outside of archives, I’ve encountered most often as the adjective “ephemeral.” It comes to us from the Greek for “lasting only a day.” There are ephemeral things that literally last one day; for example, an old medical text refers to “that Feaure [fever] which we call Ephemera, not exceeding foure and twenty houres.” Nowadays the noun form is typically used the way archives use it, and for this, Wikipedia gives an adequate definition: ephemera is “any transitory or printed matter not meant to be retained or preserved.”

A crucial distinction, then: it is the ephemera’s intended use or purpose that is ephemeral. The item itself could be saved indefinitely. But why would someone save “such things as a bus ticket, a circus poster, a Christmas card or a Valentine, a police summons, […] a train timetable, or a travel brochure,” after their intended purposes are fulfilled?

The most general answer is that human beings repurpose things. It’s nice to know why something was made, by whom and for what purpose—we can’t fully understand the thing without such knowledge—but we’re free to use things (and ideas) differently. We decide what’s significant and how; we decide what it all means.

Perhaps most ephemera should be recycled. So much ephemera is produced that saving it all is not an option, but where do we draw the line?… I’m raising questions that I cannot begin to answer. I do know that experts are best-prepared to assess the significance of ephemera related to their areas of expertise. I know that ephemera is never enough in itself. A historian, for example, needs other sources, sound methodology, and a great deal of creativity. That being said, ephemera is indispensable.

The subject is a deep one that I plan to explore further. I hope to have inspired you to think about the ephemera in your life. You don’t have to save it, but what if you did? What could it be used for, other than the obvious?

(Except as noted, quotations are from Ephemera: a a book on its collection, conservation and use by Chris E. Makepeace. 1985.)


Archivists tour the Campanile!

The Campanile, 1938 (University Photographs box 230)

The Campanile, 1938 (University Photographs box 230)

This past Wednesday the Special Collections & University Archives staff went on a tour of the Campanile. Our tour guide was Cownie Professor of Music and University Carillonneur Tin-Shi Tam. We were lucky to have Professor Tam play a few songs for us.

Professor and University Carillonneur Tin-Shi Tam giving a tour inside the Campanile, playing the carillon (photo by Rachel)

Seated: Prof. Tin-Shi Tam, Standing from left: Asst. Dept. Head Laura Sullivan, Dept. Head Petrina Jackson, Reference Specialist Becky Jordan, Rare Books & Manuscripts Archivist Amy Bishop (photo by Rachel Seale)

The bells first rang in 1899 and were donated by Edgar W. Stanton, an Iowa State University alumnus, who graduated with the first class of ISU graduates in 1872. When Stanton’s first wife, Margaret McDonald Stanton, the university’s first dean of women, died in 1895 he wanted to establish a bell tower with 10 bells as a monument. Upon Stanton’s death in 1920, his will provided for a second memorial. At the request of his second wife, Mrs. Julia Wentch Stanton and their children, an additional 26 bells and a playing console were installed in 1929 and the musical instrument became the Edgar W. and Margaret McDonald Stanton Memorial Carillon. Read more about the rich history of the Bells of Iowa State here.

Carillon bells (photo by Rachel)

Carillon bells (photo by Rachel Seale)

Ira Schroeder was the University Carillonneur from 1931-1969, making him ISU’s longest-tenured carillonneur.

Taken at a Carillon Guild meeting held at ISU, November 1959. From left, seated: Percival Price, Univ. of MIchigan; Ira Schroeder, ISU. Standing: Ronald Barnes, Univ. of Kansas; Dean Robinson, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN; Charles Ward, Rueter Oregon Co., Lawrence, KS; Milford Myhre, Culver Military Academy; and C.G.B. Garrett, St. Peter's Episcopal Church, Morristown, NJ. (University Photographs box 132)

Taken at a Carillon Guild meeting held at ISU, November 1959. From left, seated: Percival Price, Univ. of MIchigan; Ira Schroeder, ISU. Standing: Ronald Barnes, Univ. of Kansas; Dean Robinson, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN; Charles Ward, Rueter Oregon Co., Lawrence, KS; Milford Myhre, Culver Military Academy; and C.G.B. Garrett, St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, Morristown, NJ. (University Photographs box 132)

Drop by the reading room to learn more about the history of the Campanile. We’re open Monday-Friday 10 am-4 pm.

 


Gold Star Hall #TBT @isu_mu

During Memorial Day ceremonies at Gold Star Hall in the Memorial Union on ISU campus, 1954.

University Photograph Collection, RS 21/5, Box 1529.

In November of 1919, almost a year after the end of World War I, Iowa State students, alumni, and faculty formed a committee to plan a memorial to honor the men and women of Iowa State who gave their lives during the war. Memorial Union opened in 1928 and included Gold Star Hall, where the names of men and women who died in World War I were carved into the walls. Additional names were added over the years to honor Iowa Staters who gave their lives in subsequent wars.

For more information on the history of Gold Star Hall, see the Memorial Union Records, RS 21/5/1, in the University Archives.


Alpha Zeta Fraternity at Iowa State #TBT

Alpha Zeta fraternity in front of Agricultural Hall (now named Catt Hall) on steps. This photograph was taken on May 23, 1927.

(University Photographs box 1627)

(University Photographs box 1627)

Charles W. Burkett and John F. Cunningham, students in the College of Agriculture at the Ohio State University, founded the Fraternity of Alpha Zeta November 4, 1897. Alpha Zeta is a professional, service, and honorary agricultural fraternity for men and women in agriculture seeking to develop leadership skills to benefit agriculture, life sciences, and related fields. There are over 100,000 members worldwide.

Drop by the reading room and review the Alpha Zeta Wilson Chapter (Iowa State University) Records. We’re open from 10 -4, Monday-Friday.


30 years of Special Olympics Iowa Summer Games @IowaStateU @soiowa

Special Olympics Iowa Summer Games returns to Iowa State University this week. 1986 was the first year ISU hosted the summer games. This year will be the 30th year the Special Olympics Iowa Summer Games have been held here!

A race during the 1994 Special Olympics Iowa summer games (University Photographs box 21)

This is Special Olympics Iowa’s largest annual event. More than 3,000 athletes participate in the summer games. In 2006, ISU and the City of Ames put in a successful joint bid to host the first Special Olympics National Summer Games.

1994.box21.b

Awarding medals during the 1994 summer games (University Photographs box 21)

The 2016 Summer Games take place Thursday, May 19, through Saturday, May 21.

Drop by the reading room and check out our files & photographs on the history of Special Olympics Iowa at ISU. We’re open Monday – Friday 10-4.



100th anniversary of the naming of Lake LaVerne! #@IowaStateU

Today marks the 100th anniversary of the naming of Lake LaVerne. LaVerne Noyes was a member of Iowa State’s first graduating class. He graduated with a B.S. (1872) in general science and was later awarded an honorary Doctorate in Engineering from Iowa State. Noyes enlisted the help of landscape gardener O.C. Simonds to help beautify the campus of his alma mater. This project resulted in the creation of Lake LaVerne on the Iowa State campus.

Iowa State Daily (then Iowa State Student) November 19, 1914

Iowa State Daily (then Iowa State Student) November 19, 1914

The newspaper clipping above is cited by H. Summerfield Day as the first mention of a lake on campus. H. Summerfield Day was the former University Architect (1966-1975) and Planning Coordinator (1975-1980) for Iowa State and competed the history of Iowa State University’s buildings and grounds.

Noyes paid for the lake to be built. Construction began in September 1915  and was completed, with the exception of some plantings, by December 1915. “Lake LaVerne” was suggested as a name for the lake at a Story County Alumni meeting on May 10, 1916 and formally adopted a month later. The dedication of Lake LaVerne occurred on June 6, 1916.

Ice skating on Lake Laverne ca. 1920s (University Photographs box 197)

Swans on Lake LaVerne (University Photographs box 197)

Swans on Lake LaVerne ca. 1930s (University Photographs box 197)

To learn more about the history of Lake LaVerne or review the LaVerne and Ida Noyes Collection, drop by the reading room. We’re open Monday – Friday 10-4.

 

Sources

Day, H. Summerfield, The Iowa State University Campus and its Buildings 1859-1979 (Iowa State University Library, 1980), http://cdm16001.contentdm.oclc.org/cdm/ref/collection/p15031coll22/id/1073.

Iowa State University Facilities Planning and Management Buildings and Grounds Records, RS 4/8/4, Special Collections Department, Iowa State University Library.

 


#TBT Graduation Day #cyclONEgrad

This weekend, thousands of students will graduate from Iowa State University, many of whom will attend spring commencement. Iowa State’s first class graduated in 1872. Sadly, we don’t have any photos of that graduation, but we do have some from early 20th century. One of our earliest commencement photos comes from June 3, 1915, below.

Graduation recessional from Beardshear Hall, 1915. University Photographs, RS 7/2/E, Box 447.

Graduation recessional from Beardshear Hall, 1915. University Photographs, RS 7/2/E, Box 447.

To see more commencement photos throughout Iowa State’s history, stop by! We also have photos of alumni from various classes, including members of the class of 1872.

Congratulations to all of our graduates!